Chris Todd decided he would take part in the “Majestic View” dressage competition at the Majestic Farms in Batavia, Ohio, not far from Cincinnati this summer, rather than the competition at Grand Haven, which was a considerably longer trip to northeast Ohio. Todd Farm would still be represented at Grand Haven, but Chris was looking for another adventure, and those who had attended at Majestic before were high on its praise. And so it was, on Thursday, 11 June 2015, he arrived at Batavia, and got himself and his mount, five year old Beauty’s Girl, filly of Chris’ long-time mount, CH Todd’s Beauty, checked in. He was accompanied by Daniel Marlow, who acted as groom. On this occasion, only these two represented Todd Farm.
Chris participated in two classes on Friday, doing outstandingly as usual, and riding off with a blue and a red. There was no surprise in that. After his afternoon class, Daniel approached him with a caution.
“There’s a kid hanging around here we need to keep an eye on,” the thirteen year old said. “I don’t know what he’s up to, but I saw him kind of poking in Girl’s stall, but when I yelled, he ran.”
“What’s he look like?” Chris asked.
“About my size. Really light hair. That’s what I noticed most. Almost white, but on a kid it looks odd. And kind of scruffy,” Daniel reported.
“Like you did when I found you sleeping with Beauty?” Chris teased.
Daniel blushed. “Maybe that bad,” he grinned.
Chris hugged the boy. “Well, keep your eyes open. If you see him again, try to find out more about him, what he’s up to, okay?”
And so it was that, on that evening, when the two returned from dinner, and before Chris began to prepare for his second class of the day, Daniel let out a yell, and began running towards Girl’s stall. As he did, a scruffy boy began to run in the opposite direction. Chris attempted to cut off the boy, but he evidently knew a different way, and eluded both of them. But Daniel confirmed that it was the same boy he saw earlier in the day.
Early on Saturday morning, Chris and Daniel arrived at the stalls. As they approached, they heard voices coming from further along in the stables, one of which sounded in distress. Chris motioned for Daniel to be quiet, and they approached the voices. Rounding a corner, they found a large black man, whom they had encountered as an unfriendly groom the day before. He had his jeans open and his cock exposed, but limp. He was holding a boy about the same size as Daniel, and trying for force him down near the stallion who was in the stall.
“Get down there and suck it, you throw-away piece of trash,” the man demanded.
“I don’t want to,” the boy cried. “I’ll suck you again.”
“You said you didn’t like my cock. You called it dirty. So now you can just suck that stallion, or I’ll break every bone in your body,” the man yelled, shoving the boy toward the horse.
“What’s going on here?” Chris announced his presence.
“None of your business,” the man asserted. “Just dealing with a bit of trash I found in my stall this morning.”
“Looks like more than that to me,” Chris said. “Let the boy go.”
“Mind your own business. I’m teaching this scum a lesson,” the black groom insisted.
“Kind of looks more like child abuse to me,” Chris said. Then, addressing the boy, he asked, “What’s he trying to get you to do, boy?”
“He wants me to suck off the horse,” the boys replied.
The man struck the boy, sending him onto the hay. Daniel went over to where the boy lay, nursing his cheek. The groom turned to Chris.
“First I find this bit of trash in my stall when I arrive, and then he says my cock is not good enough for him. Now you’re poking your nose in where it’s none of your business. I guess I’ll have to teach you a lesson, too,” he said as he approached Chris.
Chris took his karate stance, and when the man made the first move to attack, he responded by a series of quick manoeuvers which left the man on the ground, moaning and clutching his genitals.
“Bring the boy, Daniel,” Chris said, as he turned back towards the Todd Farm stall.
“Wow,” the boy said. “That was something else.”
“Yeah,” Daniel agreed. “I heard about Chris doing things like that, but this is the first time I actually saw him in action.”
The boy tried to move away, but Daniel had him firmly by the arm, which he noted was very thin. “Oh, no. I’ve seen you hanging around Girl’s stall before. You’re going to tell us what’s going on.” He pulled the boy with him, back towards the Todd stall.
The Todd stall housed only Beauty’s Girl, as they were the only competitors at this show. But Todd Farm also rented a neighboring stall, where Chris and Daniel had a few folding chairs, a table, and some other amenities.
“Now, before anything else, Girl need attention,” Chris said, caressing his horse. “You two take care of her, and then we’ll see what our visitor has to say for himself.”
And so, Daniel and the new boy fed and watered Girl, and gave her a quick brush down. While she ate, they returned to the next stall. Chris indicated the other chair, and the boy sat. Daniel stood by the entrance, to prevent any attempt at escape.
“Daniel tells me he has seen you hanging around here, so I think, in return for rescuing you from that bully, you owe us answers to a few questions,” Chris said.
The boy looked stubborn, but said nothing.
“Do you have a name?” Chris asked.
“Stand up,” Chris ordered.
With a confused look on his face, the boy complied. Chris nodded to Daniel, who quickly lifted a wallet from the boy’s back pocket.
“Hey! That’s mine!” the boy objected.
“You’ll get it back,” Chris said, as he caught the wallet Daniel tossed to him. He opened it, and found a much abused identification card with the name Bert Anders. “Are you Bert Anders, or did you steal this from someone?”
The boy looked confused. He did not want to admit to his name, but he was afraid that, if he did not, Chris would not give him the wallet back. With a sigh, He gave in. “Yeah, that’s me.”
Chris looked through the wallet. In addition to the self-made identification card, there was a letter and two photographs. No money. He handed the wallet back to the boy.
“Okay, Bert. Now, how about telling us why you were hanging around our stall yesterday,” Chris said.
“I wasn’t,” Bert said.
“Liar!” Daniel objected. “I saw you. Twice.”
“I meant I wasn’t hanging around this stall in particular. I was looking in a lot of stalls,” Bert
“Why?” Chris persisted. “Were you trying to harm the horses?”
“Oh, no!” Bert immediately denied.
“What, then?” Chris asked again.
Bert hesitated. Then he decided to take the risk. “I’m hungry. Some of the stalls, like yours, have food.”
“Oh, you’re hungry. I guess that makes sense. Are you on your own?” Chris asked.
“Okay. Now that Girl has been taken care of, Daniel and I were heading for breakfast. You can join us, but you’ll have to wash your hands and face first. I don’t think they’ll let you in the cafeteria otherwise,” Chris said with a smile.
“Really? You mean it? You’ll buy me breakfast?” Bert asked.
“Really,” Chris confirmed. “Come on.”
And so, the three of them walked to the cafeteria, but stopped at the restroom on the way, where Chris and Daniel washed their hands, and Bert did a more thorough job, including his face and arms as well. They started down the line in the cafeteria. Bert looked unsure.
“Take whatever you want, but anything you take, you eat, okay?” Chris informed him.
“Okay,” he replied, and loaded up.
They found a table, and sat. Chris and Daniel ate and talked a bit about the upcoming class, but Bert only ate. He started out shoveling it in, as though he thought someone might take his food away from him.
“Slow down, or you’ll get a stomach ache,” Chris admonished.
He slowed down, but he paid attention to nothing else for many minutes.
“What’s on your calendar for the rest of the day?” Chris asked Bert as they neared completion of their breakfast. He looked confused by that, so Chris restated his question. “What are you going to be doing for the rest of the morning?”
“Oh. Nothing. I kind of planned on looking for something to eat, but since you fed me, I have nothing to do,” Bert confessed.
“All right. You stick with Daniel, and I’ll feed you lunch as well,” Chris promised.
“All right!” Bert agreed.
Turning to Daniel, Chris said, “You take as good a care of Bert as you do with Girl. Well, almost anyway.”
Daniel laughed. “Almost, then.”
Chris went to watch the first class of the morning, while Daniel led Bert back to the stables. At one point, Chris went to the stables and looked after Girl a bit, leading her out and putting in a hour of practice. At another point, Daniel and Bert joined him in the box rented by Todd Farm. But nothing significant was said until lunchtime.
They met at the cafeteria, and went through the line. When they were seated, Chris asked, “So, how was your morning?”
The boys laughed. “Daniel told me I’d get quizzed at lunch,” Bert said.
As Chris has hoped, the two boys being together all morning resulted in Bert loosening up, and being willing to talk about himself. In particular, Daniel told Bert about his own background, and about Brandon’s Boys. Bert was definitely interested. Between a more communicative Bert and a Daniel satisfied with his achievement, Chris learned that Bert’s full name was Hans Bertil Anders, he as 13 years old, and he came originally from Minnesota. Given his platinum blond hair color, it was no surprise to learn that Bert was of Swedish ancestry. His mother had died when he was ten years old. The letter in his wallet was from her, her last advice to Bert telling him to trust in himself and be a good boy. His father was stern. Based on what Bert told them, it went beyond being stern, and involved child abuse. He showed Chris several scars on his arms and legs inflicted by his father. His father remarried, and his new wife had two sons, a little older then Bert, who picked on him incessantly. When his father beat him for complaining about that, he ran away. That was back in September. The winter had been hard. He ended up at the Majestic Horse Show more or less by chance. Back at home, he worked on a farm part time, and he got to know horses and like them a lot. He had made it to Cincinnati, where he ran into some guys who wanted to rent him out. With his platinum hair, he would be a favorite. So he simply took off, hitching a ride, and ended up at the horse show. He was not familiar with dressage, but thought what he saw that morning really cool.
Chris asked Bert whether Daniel had described how things were done at Brandon’s Boys. Indeed, he had. It sounded wonderful to Bert. He asked for confirmation that he would not have to engage in sex with anyone in return for his room and board. No, but he would have to go to school, and cooperate with the others, and mind Aunt Barbara, and muck out stables, Daniel told him, laughing at the last requirement. And so, it was agreed that Bert would stick with the Todd delegation, and if all went well, he’d travel with them to Todd Farm on Monday.
Chris found time to make a trip to a local discount store on Saturday, and bought Bert some new clothes. The ones he was wearing were not only dirty, they were torn, and were clearly too small for him. Bert cleaned up in the motel room shared by Chris and Daniel before donning his new duds. He ate gladly at each meal, not being entirely sure this would continue. He watched the dressage competitions, and helped Daniel take care of Girl. Although Bert said he attended a Lutheran church while his mother was alive, he went with Chris and Daniel to the 8:00 a.m. Catholic Mass at St. Louis Church in Batavia on Sunday morning with no hesitation.
Naturally, Chris did very well in the competition. In the championship rounds on Sunday, he rode away with a blue ribbon. Because it was late when the show ended, they remained in Batavia over night, but early on Monday morning they took off for home, with Girl in a very comfortable horse trailer. Chris still had his little Smart Car, but that could not pull a horse trailer, so he was driving one of the Farm’s pickups. Because they were taking special care with Girl in the trailer, they did not travel very fast, but they were at Todd Farm in time for a great farm dinner. It was then that Bert met some of the other boys, as well as the regular denizens of Todd Farm. All went very well.
Bert was assigned to share a room with Daniel that evening. During the night, Daniel awoke to the sound of the other boy crying. This surprised him, as things had been going so well. He flipped on a bedside lamp, which caused Bert to gasp in surprise, then pretend he was asleep. But Daniel was not fooled. He got up, and sat on Bert’s bed.
“Okay, quit playing possum. I know you’re awake. And you’re going to tell me why you’re crying. I thought things were working out pretty well,” Daniel insisted.
“I don’t want to loose all this,” Bert sniffled.
“Why would you think you’re going to loose all this?” Daniel asked.
“Because of me. I’m ... I’m different.”
“Different? Different how?” Daniel wanted to know.
“I can’t tell you. You’ll hate me,” Bert sobbed.
“No I won’t. I promise,” Daniel said.
“You know what I was doing when you and Chris rescued me.”
“Yeah? And ...?”
“I did that a lot,” Daniel whispered.
“Are you telling me you sucked cock a lot?” Daniel asked to be sure he understood.
Bert shied away, but confirmed, “Yeah.”
“Bert, you’re not the only guy who sucked cock when he got desperate and was hungry,” Daniel tried to reassure him.
“But I’m different,” Bert insisted.
“I like it.”
“You like sucking cock?” Daniel asked.
“Yeah. Not a dirty one, like that guy’s at the stable, but I like sucking a nice clean cock. I’m terrible,” Bert sobbed.
“I guess that means you’re gay,” Daniel said.
“That’s what guys who like sex with other guys are called,” Daniel explained.
“I thought they ... we ... are called queer,” Bert said.
“That’s a put-down. It’s like calling a black person a nigger, or someone from the country a hick. It’s like that bully back at Majestic calling you ’trash’ all the time. We don’t use words like that. Not at Brandon’s Boys and not on Todd Farm,” Daniel replied.
“No. So, if you like boys, no problem, but it’s ‘gay,’ not ‘queer,’ okay?” Daniel instructed his new friend.
“No problem? What do you mean?” Bert hesitantly asked.
“Bert, there are a couple of guys at Brandon’s Boys who are gay. And, in case you haven’t picked up on it, so is Chris, and so is Brandon,” Daniel said.
“Yeah, and, as a matter of fact, so am I,” Daniel said. “I only really accepted this earlier this year, but it’s true. And there really are no problems with that either at Brandon’s Boys or here on the Farm.”
“Oh, wow! Oh, wow! Things just get better and better. I am so tired of hiding who I am. I was afraid I’d get beat up, or else used like that guy at the horse show,” Bert confessed.
“Well, you don’t have to worry any longer. Now, go back to sleep. We have to be up early in the morning to feed the horses,” Daniel insisted, poking him on the shoulder.
“Yes, sir, boss,” Bert said, and turned over. He was asleep before Daniel could get back in bed.
The next day, after they had completed their chores and breakfast, Daniel led Bert to ask Chris to speak before he went out to practice. Then, urged on by Daniel, Bert confessed his gay sexual orientation, not entirely convinced Daniel had been telling him the full story the night before.
But Chris reacted positively. “Great! So am I, and so is Daniel. We’re about even between gay and straight at the house right now.”
“Daniel said there were other gay boys there. Besides him, I mean,” Bert hesitantly asked.
“Yeah. Let’s see, we have nine boys living at the home now. Of course, some of our graduates come back to visit ...”
“... and to eat Aunt Barbara’s meals,” Daniel added.
Chris grinned. “That, too. But, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted,” (as he said this he grabbed Daniel and gave him a noogie) “we have nine boys living at the house now. I believe we have three definitely straight and three pretty definitely gay, plus two who have not decided yet. Tom is too young to be sure, as he’s only nine. Freddy is fourteen, so he probably knows, but has not told any of us yet, as far as I know. We do respect each other’s privacy.”
“Yeah. Me an Oliver have a bet going. I say Freddy is gay, but Oliver insists he’s straight,” Daniel announced.
When Brandon arrived at the Farm that afternoon, he was introduced to Bert. As he had been warned, Brandon insisted on getting some definite information, and looking into the legal situation, but there was no suggestion that Bert might not be welcome. Again, he confessed to being Hans Bertil Anders, with a birthday on 9 March 2002, so he was now 13 years old. He had completed the sixth grade, but ran away shortly after his seventh grade began, and so would have to start in August a year behind his age cohort, including Freddy Foster and Bobby Ferguson. Bert did not have an official identification, such as a Social Security card, so that would have to be looked into, but maybe not until after the legal situation was clarified. Reluctantly, he gave Brandon his father’s name and address in Minnesota, only because he trusted him and the others he was meeting. He definitely did not want to go back there.
Bert also met Sandy Todd. He was impressed with her friendliness, and the fact that she accepted him without question on the word of her son, Chris. During the week, Bert met Raman and Mike, who came out during the day to ride, and Oliver, Bobby Ackerman, and Clarence, who came out after work, each accompanied by his girlfriend.
On Friday, Brandon, Daniel, and Bert went into Clifton. There, Bert got to see Brandon’s Boys house for the first time, and to meet Aunt Barbara. But the main reason for the trip into Clifton was to have a physical exam. Brandon arranged for him to be seen by Dr. Joshua Castleman, who was a member of the Brandon’s Boys Board. Bert got the most comprehensive medical exam he could remember, but fortunately nothing really serious turned up. Of course, there were the usual problems with boys who had been on the streets for a while, such as worms and fleas. He was also malnourished, but the meals he had been enjoying for the past week would take care of that. Bert also found that, as a member of Brandon’s Boys, he would have a membership in Mike’s Gym, where he could rebuild his strength. On Saturday, Brandon administered a battery of tests which showed just what was expected for someone who was out of school for most of the past year. After some discussion, Bert decided to enter the seventh grade in August and get back on his feet. Then, if he wanted, he could try to exam out of eighth grade, and go into high school with Freddy and Bobby Ferguson in 2016.
Of course, Brandon consulted with Anjali Pennington. Anjali got busy checking on the legal situation. By Monday, she discovered that no missing person claim had been filed in the jurisdiction where Bert’s father lived, and his school had made only perfunctory efforts to find out where to send his records. She filed suit in family court, asserting that Bert had in effect been abandoned by his family, and asking that all parental rights of his father be terminated. Brandon would be designated foster father as part of the Brandon’s Boys arrangements.
Well before that was settled, on Sunday, Bert again attended Mass with Brandon and those of his boys who were in town. And again, he had no complaints, and agreed to continue attending with the other boys. In September, he could decide about joining the RCIA program.
And so it was that another boy was added to Brandon’s Boys group home.